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UK minister asked to make good on welfare pledge

Iain Duncan Smith said he could survive on what a welfare recipient has after paying for rent and heat.

Olivia Harris/REUTERS

Iain Duncan Smith said he could survive on what a welfare recipient has after paying for rent and heat.

LONDON — A British government minister is being asked to put his money where his mouth is.

Opponents of a raft of welfare changes that took effect this week want Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith to make good on a claim that he could live on $80 a week, the amount that one welfare recipient said he has left after paying for housing and heat.

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Asked on national radio Monday whether he could get by on so little, Duncan Smith replied: ‘‘If I had to, I would.’’

By Tuesday afternoon, some 250,000 people had signed a petition urging him to prove it.

That would mean living on $11.43 a day in London, one of the most expensive cities in the world. It would also reflect a huge comedown: a 97 percent cut in his government minister’s salary.

Duncan Smith said that he had been unemployed twice and knew what it was like ‘‘to live on the bread line.’’

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